Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Friday Fact

I forgot last week. 10 lashes with a wet noodle for me! I worked 8 hours Friday and Saturday last week is my excuse. I remembered Saturday at lunch, when I naturally didn't have access to a computer.

This week, some of racing's greatest. I won't go into a lot of detail, you can Google the names if you want more.

Seasbiscuit: After the movie starring Tobey Maguire, Seabiscuit fever swept across the nation like wildfire. Again. Yes, he was a great horse. Made even greater by the fact that he just wouldn't quit. The movie is excellent, but the book, as usual, is a bazillion times better. His story is amazing, as is the story of the people that went with him. A true Great American Tale.

War Admiral: Yes, Seabiscuit's arch-nemesis was a great horse. As was his father, Man-O-War. He won the Triple Crown in 1937.

Man-O-War: He was a fierce horse with a bad temper. And practically unbeatable. He sired and grand-sired some of the greatest horses of the 20's and 30's, including Seabiscuit.

Northern Dancer: A lovely gray colt and he dominated the racing scene in the mid-60's. Almost every single champion horse since 1969 has contained Northern Dancer blood. He's one of a few stallions who consistently produced top-notch offspring. He also holds the Derby speed record of 2 minutes flat.

Secretariat: No list of Great Horses is complete without Secretariat's name. He won the Triple Crown in 1973, and won the mile-and-a-half long Belmont Stakes by 33 lengths. That's over a quarter of a mile, just to put it in perspective for ya. No horse has ever achieved that kind of victory since, and I don't think any horse ever will. He had a larger heart than most horses, now believed to have been genetic and inherited from his dam. Sadly, that very same large heart also caused his death at the young age of 14.

Seattle Slew: Purchased for a measly $17,500, he went on to become the only Triple Crown champion to remain undefeated throughout his entire post-TC racing career. He's produced some very good offspring and has an excellent broodmare line. His total earnings topped $1.2 million, an astronomical sum in the 70's. I believe he was one of the first horses to top the million mark in lifetime earnings.

Affirmed: Another great horse, often overlooked. He was the last horse to win the Triple Crown in 1978. This next year will mark a 30-year drought in winning. This has prompted speculation that the races should be spread out over more time or shortened. I beg to differ and believe that it's a reflection of some of the shoddy breeding practices that have developed in this country that have led to weak boned horses.

Silver Charm: Not exactly a great, but a great to me. He is my most favorite racehorse of all time and won the Kentucky Derby in 1997. He's a gorgeous dapple gray. Or well, he was until his coat started fading. That's the nature of grays though, when he dies he'll be pure white. His offspring have done ok, Preachinatthebar is the most notable one. He won the Louisiana Derby in 2003. It was Charm who got me hooked on racing. If anyone has ever right-clicked on the pictures I post here, they've noticed that my Photobucket user name is Silver Charm. It's a handle I use quite frequently on the 'Net. It's always available!

Unbridled: A true unsung champion! He won the Derby in 1990 and has gone on to sire dozens of Grade 2 and Grade 1 stakes winners. His most famous offspring is Unbridled's Song, a filly. She was amazing and is having a very successful career as a broodmare.

Now some people will say, "What about Smarty Jones and Funny Cide?". I do have an answer. Funny Cide is a good horse. His performance has not been very steady since his Derby run. Being a gelding (which means he can't make babies) limits his future. Great means being consistent, turning in the amazing performance time after time after time. Funny Cide just doesn't have that.

And Smarty Jones.... He was just a good horse. Considering the lackluster crop he was running against, a good argument can be made that he was just a mediocre horse that hit the right set of circumstances so that he looked better than he really was. He did not go on to prove that he was a great horse and he should NOT have won Horse of the Year in 2004. He would have earned the right to be called great IF he had run in the Breeder's Cup Classic against the older boys and won. Since he didn't, he's not a great horse. Why yes, I do have a strong opinion on the matter. However did you guess?

Much of the country recently mourned the loss of another great horse. Barbaro, last year's Derby winner. I sat on the couch and cried when he broke down at the Belmont. I was thrilled to pieces that Birdstone won, but heart-broken over Barbaro. I fully believe had that not happened, he would have ended the Triple Crown drought and gone down on the list of champions right next to Secretariat. I cried when I learned that he'd been put down back in the spring.

So why I am posting all this horse stuff? The ultimate day in racing is just around the corner. Next weekend is The Breeder's Cup, where the Best of the Best from around the world will gather at Monmouth Park in New Jersey and duke it out to see who's the best in each category. And I sincerely hope somebody besides Ouija Board wins the Filly/Mare Turf. 3 years in a row is a little ridiculous IMO. :D

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